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Smart line-up gets the Brabus treatment. Image by Smart.

Smart line-up gets the Brabus treatment
Smart Brabus models have 109hp and 170Nm, and can do more than 100mph.
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What's all this about?

The latest development in Smart's 12-year association with masters of mentality, Brabus. Usually known for turning out 200mph E-Class monsters, Brabus has instead been asked to spice up the Fortwo, Fortwo Cabrio and Forfour models.

What has it done - dropped a V8 in the rumps of all three of them?

Umm, no. Instead, it has got to work on the 0.9-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged motor found in the current most powerful Smarts. A few key upgrades have been enacted though: there's a Brabus Sports exhaust with reduced back-box pressure to help the engine exhale; fuel pressure is up to two bar; and the air supply to that tiny triple is increased. Brabus also recalibrates the steering, the automatic gearbox and the ESP for the extra grunt, while fitting its 20 per cent stiffer Performance Sports springs and dampers, plus a larger front anti-roll bar to reduce lean by up to nine per cent.

Sounds impressive. What sort of power are we talking about?

A thumping 109hp at 5,750rpm and 170Nm at 2,000rpm. This is a 19hp/35Nm increase on that existing 90hp 0.9 already in the range, and it's also 7hp and 23Nm up on the previous-generation Smart Brabus, making these latest models the 'most powerful standard Smarts' yet built. All three are equipped with the Twinamic dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which now has 40 per cent faster response times, shorter ratios and a launch control 'Race Start' function, thanks to Brabus' know-how.

And what's the resulting performance data?

Pacey, for a Smart. The Fortwo hardtop and Cabrio models both do 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, before topping out at 103mph (that's significant, as no existing Smart can crack 100mph). Looking at the 90hp models, the Coupé takes 11.3 seconds and the Cabrio 11.7 seconds to do 0-62mph, so either Brabus version is around two seconds quicker than its regular equivalent.

How about the Forfour?

Not quite as punchy off the mark, taking a whole second longer to hit 62mph from rest at 10.5 seconds all-in, but it's quicker flat out, with a 112mph top speed.

How does the Brabus work affect fuel economy and emissions?

It's enough to knock all versions of the Smarts out of the sub-100g/km CO2 category that usually makes them attractive in terms of various taxes. However, the Brabus models aren't totally profligate, all sitting in VED Band B: the Fortwo does 62.8mpg and 102g/km, while the Cabrio and Forfour examples are a touch behind at 61.4mpg and 104g/km.

Can you talk me through the styling changes?

The Brabus Smarts have two chrome-finish exhausts spaced either side of a matte grey diffuser at the back, while in the wheel arches are similarly matte grey Brabus Monoblock IX light alloy wheels. On the Fortwo twins, these are 16-inch items front and 17s rear, on 185/50 R16 and 205/40 R17 rubber respectively; for the Forfour, the rear wheels and tyres are identically sized, but the front wheels are 17s also, wearing 185/45 R17s. In the pictures you'll notice all the cars are one colour, with their Tridion safety cells blending into the rest of the Smart's body panels, although whether this is standard or not remains to be seen. Finally, the Fortwo and the Forfour Brabus models get a panoramic roof above the occupants; the Cabrio obviously already has this sort of sunshine-driving covered as it is.

And inside?

Difficult to say. Smart says standard Brabus equipment includes a lockable glove compartment, the Cool & Audio package and the proximity warning function. However, there's an Xclusive trim upgrade available on all three cars and it adds a lot of the stuff we would have expected in a Brabus model anyway, such as Brabus sports seats with perforated Nappa and black leather seats with grey topstitching; a Brabus instrument panel clothed in man-made leather and fabric; Brabus dials in the instrument cluster, as well as for the clock and rev counter pods; Brabus floor mats; Xclusive badges on the outside, in the mirror triangle and on the B-pillar; the LED & Sensor package; heated seats; and, in the Forfour alone, a 'readyspace' function featuring rear seats with a removable cargo box. For this little lot, in Germany it adds €3,000 (around £2,365) to the price of any Brabus.

Ah, prices - will you expand on those, please?

Well, interestingly enough, German prices start at €19,710 for the Fortwo Brabus, rising to €25,970 for the Fortwo Cabrio Brabus Xclusive. That makes all these full-power, fully loaded Brabus models considerably cheaper than the recently announced Brabus Edition limited Smart Cabrio model, of which 200 will be sold at an astonishing €29,950 apiece. So while we're not sure on UK prices as yet, it's clear to see that the 109hp Brabus models should all retail for less than £20,000 once they make it to our shores. On that note, following a Beijing Motor Show debut, the Smart Brabus cars should be in European showrooms by July.

Matt Robinson - 24 Apr 2016

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